Financial Elements

Elements of Financial Statements

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Elements of Financial Statements

Financial elements, according to its framework, is divided into five broad categories. The groups are determined based on their economic characteristics. In this article, we look at the five major categories in a financial statement in detail.

Know more about key financial indicators.


An asset is a resource which is in control of the enterprise out of which subsequent economic benefits are expected to flow to the enterprise. Following are some of the points to be remembered:

  • An asset need not be a physical substance.
  • An asset needn’t be owned. As already understood, an asset is a resource which is in control of the enterprise. Take an instance where an asset is leased out to another, the person who controls the asset would naturally be the one to whom it is being leased out to, and not the owner. Hence, the owner wouldn’t recognize it as an asset as he/she wouldn’t mention the asset in the books.
  • There must be sufficient control for an asset to be recognized. A few examples can be copyright, patent etc.
  • For an asset to be recognized, the odds must favor future financial benefits. If the value of an asset ceases in the current accounting period, it cannot be considered as an asset.
  •  An asset’s cost or value must be easily measurable.


A liability is the current obligation of the enterprise arising from past events. Following are some of the points to be remembered:

  • A liability is an obligation, the existence of which, based on the evidences available in the balance sheet date is considered more probable than not.
  • Certain provisions like doubtful debts, provisions for depreciation, provisions for impairment losses etc, represent reduction in the value of assets rather than obligations, hence wouldn’t be considered as a liability.
  • A liability is recognized when outflow of economic resources in settlement of a present obligation can be anticipated and the value of outflow can be reliably measured.


Equity can be defined as residual interest in the assets of an enterprise post deduction of liabilities. To be precise, equity is the excess of aggregate assets of an enterprise over its aggregate liabilities. An example can be provided in ‘owners claim which consists of items like capital and reserves’. 


Any of the following can constitute an income:

  • Increase in economic benefits during the accounting period in the form of inflow or encasement of assets.
  • Decrease in liabilities, which leads to increase in equity.

The definition of income also includes revenue and gains. Revenue is an income that arises during the ordinary course of business. Gains are incomes which may/may not arise during the ordinary course of activity.


Expense is the exact antithesis of income. Any of the following can be considered as an expense:

  • Decrease in economic benefits during the accounting period in the form of outflow.
  • Dwindling of assets.

The definition of expenses is inclusive of the ones such as wages paid and the likes of it, which occurs in the daily course of business, as well as those losses which may or may not occur in the ordinary course of business. An example of the latter can be loss on disposal of fixed assets. Expenses are recognized in the P&L account by matching them with the revenue generated.

It must be noted that where economic benefits are expected to arise over several accounting periods, expenses are depicted in the P&L account on the basis of systematic and rational allocation procedures. One of the most common examples for the same is depreciation.

Moreover, an expense is spontaneously recognized in the P&L account when it ceases to meet the definition of asset or future economic benefits aren’t expected.

Post by Sreeram Viswanath

IndiaFilings is India's largest online compliance services platform dedicated to helping people start and grow their business, at an affordable cost. We were started in 2014 with the mission of making it easier for Entrepreneurs to start their business. We have since helped start and operate tens of thousands of businesses by offering a range of business services. Our aim is to help the entrepreneur on the legal and regulatory requirements, and be a partner throughout the business lifecycle, offering support at every stage to ensure the business remains compliant and continually growing.